Even social workers who hate thinking about policy know that policy, and especially national social welfare policy, is incredibly important – indeed, it is essential to the the primary mission of the profession “to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty” (Preamble to the NASW Code of Ethics). Well, guess what? The principal policy making body in “the greatest democracy in the world” is virtually shut down right now, as a group of ultra hard-right members of the House of Representatives prevent selection of a Speaker of the House – even one who is himself an extreme right winger and self-abasing Trump supplicant.
Most members of this intransigent group are explicitly pro-insurrection, which is to say they favor a U.S. coup d’etat. They insist that the 2020 election was “stolen.” They believe that the attack on the Capitol by a Trumpian mob on January 6, 2021 was fully justified. They say quite openly that they intend to tear down the government as it is, and install a new ultra-rightest regime to their liking. They unabashedly proclaim that they don’t intend to quit until their opposition (the so-called “uni-party”) fully capitulates to what they like and want.
And what they like and want is more-or-less an exact opposite of everything the profession of social work stands for and works toward achieving. They like and want intolerance (for LGBTQ people, for immigrants, for Jews, for liberals/”socialists”). They like and want the suppression of reproductive freedoms. They like and want the banning of books and the suppression of simple historical truth. They like and want the extirpation of “wokeness” and the acceptance of Eurocentric white supremacy and the raft of highly unequal “rights” and privileges that come with it. They like and want the unrestrained capacity of violent “patriots” to intimidate all challengers. They like and want the gutting of any social welfare program that supports and empowers ordinary people – the bread and butter base of the profession, no matter the arena of social work practice.
It may indeed look like a circus in the Capitol right now, but what’s happening there is no joke. It’s evidence of an ongoing coup that Trump may have instigated but that he no longer controls. It’s the unraveling of what remains of U.S. political democracy, and it may well be the beginning of the end of what remains of the American welfare state and the meager protections it affords millions upon millions of American’s most vulnerable.